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I grew up near the "muck farms" in Copley, Ohio. What we call "muck" is, I believe, very much like peat. It is very rich, black soil entirely made of organic materials. Once when I was a kid, my dad accidently caught our dirt on fire! It burned slowly for at least a week before he was able to completely extinguish it. Scary!
 

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I'm late for a discussion you guys had several days ago but did want to participate in it...

Arizona used slightly LESS water the last couple of years than it used in 1950! That shocked me, but advances in transport of water and in farmland conservation efforts had really helped. But what hasn't changed significantly is that agriculture in Arizona consistently uses 75% of all the water! For things like cotton - grows better elsewhere. Pecans? A pecan grove can use as much water a a 20,000 person city! Ranching uses very little water. In essence, a ranch can exist forever without depleting ground water. But farming is a different story! Particularly farming with water intensive crops.
The same insanity happens in Australia, in the low precipitation areas near the Murray-Darling district. The river is dying because of it, and I remember being in first year high school here back in 1983 and hearing the environmental scientists saying, "We need to change this now or we are heading for disaster!" and of course nobody listened to them as usual. Now we have the disaster that was predicted decades ago. 😡 Fish kills, dried-up creeks, toxic algae, falling groundwater tables killing the bushland (=more habitat loss and biodiversity collapse) and drying up agricultural bores that get sunk ever deeper.

They grow irrigated cotton and rice in those dryland areas. Excuse me for thinking rice should be grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas, like Japan and South-East Asia. I get it that we may not get enough from these traditional areas for the ludicrously bloated human population and the main issue is that we need to do something about halting exponential population growth rather than saying, "Ah well, the population will stabilise by itself when every country in the world is industrialised." The planet won't survive global industrialisation and the concomitant explosion of Western materialism and waste in currently low-footprint countries. I'd personally prefer it if humans used their brains and contraception instead of us wiping each other out with wars over resource shortages, and having pandemics (the current one is a mere baby of what we're going to see if we don't stop) and starvation kill off our excesses - but it appears our species won't learn. So I think nature is going to reduce the human species back to low levels through the usual means, which also happen to be famously embodied in the Apocalyptic Horsemen because that's what always deals with human population excess.

People keep saying, "Paul Ehrlich said that in the 1960s and we're supporting many more people now." We did it at the expense of other species we've wiped out in the process, by bulldozing millions and millions of hectares of natural ecosystems for agriculture and housing developments, and by further poisoning the planet. The planet is in worse shape because of it, just like a paddock is after you've overstocked it. And just because the house of cards hasn't collapsed yet doesn't mean it's not going to.

Ecosystem indicators across the world are already frightening. We're losing ever more native vegetation and biodiversity, cutting down rainforests and other old-growth forests like there's no tomorrow and we don't need oxygen, in a few years the total weight of plastic in the oceans will exceed the total weight of fish, there's cocktails of toxic industrial chemicals in human breast milk and in the body fats of every one of us (and in the cord blood of every newborn baby), including chemicals that were banned in the West decades ago, like DDT which continues to persist in the ecosystem and continues to be used in poor countries, where industrialised nations dump dangerous chemicals that are no longer permitted in our own countries.

Stewardship this ain't. It's total insanity.

I dislike a lot of Tucson's politics, but they have partially replenished the groundwater drop that had taken place when I was in high school. The levels are going UP, not down!
It's nice to have some good news!

But I think we need to seriously restrict the TYPES of agriculture allowed in Arizona to those that don't use insane amounts of water. This would require action by the state government and they do NOT want to touch that political hot potato! Odd as it sounds, many of the big users are also owned by very large corporations based out of state and (often) outside the USA. China and Saudi Arabia own places sucking up water to produce crops that are not sustainable in the long haul. I have NO IDEA why we allow that apart from $$$$$$ going to politicians!
A start could be made by at least regulating against any more putting in of water-intensive crops, and by giving water quotas to existing water-intensive farmers that have to be reduced slightly each year to motivate people to come up with even better water use efficiency - and to support that with research&development of better technologies and practices (which is what our Department of Agriculture used to do really well in the 1990s before they were progressively strangled by funding cuts - a real pity, because it was great that the community, via the state, employed motivated professionals who were making a difference and because the private sector won't pick up that kind of work because it's not-for-profit realistically - so people, please support government employment of environmental, agriculture and other professionals, as I'm sure you do with teaching professionals in public schools - because education shouldn't just be for the wealthy and should be excellent no matter how poor the parents of the kids are).

So, @bsms, you're talking about the need for regulation here, which I agree with for so many areas - for example, in Japan the government regulates the quality of whitegoods that's allowed to be sold by holding an annual competition to determine the most energy-efficient products in each category. That then is the new benchmark, and a couple of years later that is the minimum standard for anything allowed to be sold in Japan. So their appliances become more and more energy-efficient, while Australia doesn't regulate and is a dumping ground for energy-inefficient whitegoods. Germany did extremely well with solar uptake because there was government regulation and favourable policies, etc. See:


I kind of think that running an unregulated economy is like the idea of running an unregulated classroom where you just trust the children to behave well off their own initiative. They're mostly not going to, it would be a race to the bottom (at least in Western classrooms) and it's your job as an adult to maintain the standards and fairness of that room and to model and teach good behaviour. I think the same goes for running a state or country. Sadly the people in charge of that are rarely good role models or truly interested in the common good and the long term; they're usually more interested in the perks of the job and the ability to manipulate the system for their personal gain and their mates' and in being re-elected for the next political cycle - and they often don't understand the complexities of what they're dealing with - and then there's the Dunning-Kruger effect etc.

I know that's an enormous systemic problem, and I don't know what the answer to that is, except things like an educated and caring community who remind the politicians of the issues, and having decent people in jobs that can make a difference. But that's a bit like a situation where a bunch of children have a corrupt teacher and are trying to change that and the injustices thus imposed. Good luck to you...

The best book I've seen to explain how the current Western political and economic systems work against positive change is this one:


I know some of you don't believe that there's anthropogenic climate change, but I think you can all see the many other forms of environmental degradation in the last decades of your lives, so I'd urge you to read this anyway and just substitute things like "groundwater depletion" for your reasons to read it - because it shows you what you're up against trying to make a positive change in anything that benefits the planet and the community, rather than the ruling classes and corporations. It's depressing and it's outrageous, and that was not the intention of the book. The author is a fine investigative journalist, not a shock jock - and she meticulously references everything so you can go back to the sources yourselves.

Some of the things that are going on around the world where large corporations are actively taking away the rights of local communities to live as they hitherto have - in rural Greece, on various islands, etc etc etc and via the collusion of the local politicians but also without that, via "free trade" regulations etc - make very hard reading indeed, and don't get much international press coverage so slip by without most of us ever knowing about it (even in the Internet age).

And I've come up against the very same issues myself, as did my colleagues, when I was professionally working as an environmental scientist in the 1990s. The right thing to do, and which was resoundingly supported by the local farming community, did not get done - in the end, it was the tree plantation corporations that got the public money that you and I as citizens pay as taxes, not the small family farmers who would have used the money in ways that would actually have had significant environmental and social benefits (which the tree plantations have very little of, if any).


"Peacock Nuts, a consortium that includes the largest permanent crop nursery in the United States, has even bigger plans: 4,500 acres and as many as 650,000 pistachio trees. “There’s no way we have enough water to be able to handle that,” Cobb said. In Kingman, as in most of rural Arizona, there are no rules on groundwater pumping. As long as you get a permit, you can drill a well of any size for any purpose as long as it’s for a beneficial use. Agriculture easily qualifies, even if the crops are shipped out of state for profit....

... Cobb, a Republican representative from Kingman, said the Peacock Nuts operation is "mining our water." She said this is why she is “obsessed” with doing something about out-of-state agribusiness using up Arizona’s precious resources to profit. “The term I heard a lot of years ago was virtual water,” said Marvin Glotfelty, a groundwater expert and consultant. “It’s not legal to export groundwater or surface water out of the state. That's by law. But you can export virtual water.”

Farms from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates doing just that have angered residents in the La Paz County communities of Vicksburg, Salome and Wenden.
"
It is heartening for me to read cases where community and local political engagement is able to make a resistance to current Western "business-as-usual".



My dad’s brother in law used to be a major exporter of alfalfa from Utah to the Saudi and Dubai racing industry. Got invited to royal weddings and all that pizzazz. Strange to think about going to all that trouble to grow hay and send half way around the world. Years ago I was on the board of a therapeutic riding program and we were having issues getting hay. I reached out to him to ask if there was anything he could do to help us and he just laughed and said “no way you can afford our hay and I can’t afford to donate it to you.” It’s a weird world.
And it's a form of social injustice that a bunch of Middle Eastern rich guys feeding their hobby racehorses can outbid the people in the country of origin who need hay, often for far less spurious reasons. If you think about the environmental footprint of growing and then shipping that stuff halfway across the planet, to do what? I know the argument will be that farmers can enjoy the higher prices (and often, farmers are living on the bare bones of their backsides and really need extra money - and we need to make sure farmers get active, systematic community support etc), but if you count the social and environmental costs of this kind of madness, it's a different story. The problem is, generally we don't. Where would the hay grown in your local areas actually have the best benefit to the overall system, and benefit the most people all around? If we're only counting money for a sales transaction, we're not factoring in true costs to the wider local communities and the planet. We can't let money be in the driving seat for everything we do - it's got to be decent principles and the interests of the wider community and the planet, or we're going to continue to live in a crazy, broken, dying world. (See also the story of the Golden Calf, which is a lovely metaphor for this kind of madness.)


Strange world we live in. Who would have thought ranchers in Utah would be outbid for Utah hay by dairy farms in China?
Yeah, as above. And it's a case of a culture that never used to have much in the way of dairy products in their lives and did perfectly fine without that on their local agricultural produce becoming Westernised and wanting a Western diet and lifestyle, neither of which are actually that great for health and happiness. Recently, @MeditativeRider wrote a post on exactly this kind of problem on my journal - how NZ agriculture is rapidly becoming a dairying monoculture for exporting dairy products to places that never culturally used to have them in the diet, like China - causing social and environmental problems in NZ, and probably animal welfare issues as well (because of increasingly industrialised farming).


Water is crazy here, like I’ve said before. They are trying to rewrite the laws to socialize the water. It was shut down, but is now at the Supreme Court waiting a decision. The oddest point about it was that it made pretend water real (water that hasn’t been pumped), and you could sell your water. I think they included a refill/non refill piece though.

Anyways, the water is being pumped too far. Zeus and I fell into the earth on one of his first rides because it just caves out from under a person. These giant cracks have been created. People tend to not be aware of that. There used to be a pond and a big creek at the ranch, but it has disappeared.
I hope the solution in your area becomes an actual solution, and not the expensive farce that happened in our Murray-Darling system.


This is what always gets me about the “cows are bad for the environment,” debate. To farm land depletes the land and the resources in a way that well managed livestock does not. So, to grow the food that replaces the meat, one does damage to the environment that would benefit the environment without.
I think people need to make a distinction between free-range grazing, and industrialised animal farming - for environmental and animal welfare reasons. Sadly, though we produce small-scale beef (off our smallholding) via free-range and sustainable (for this land) grazing, because of the way the WA system is set up (no local abattoirs so all the animals from all production systems go anonymously to the same central WA abattoir a long way away and therefore we can't market our own beef) there is no way the consumer can tell what's farmed in what way and make a choice about it. It all looks the same once it's on a tray.

Because of human overpopulation, the demand for animal protein has become such that it can't be satisfied anymore by animals produced to high environmental and welfare standards. That's one reason the average Westerner does have to consider dropping their meat consumption - as the average Westerner does eat more meat than is necessary for good health, and more than is generally eaten in other cultures (excluding the Inuit, and other hunter-gatherer cultures in areas with poor plant options).

Totally with you re well-managed livestock grazing. We bought our smallholding from a farmer who had four titles to graze beef and the place here has produced beef since the 1950s, so we continued with this. We can do so without a tractor and other expensive machinery and without importing a great deal of fodder - we grow tree fodder as a hay substitute and only rarely buy in a roll of hay, to provide roughage in mid-winter when the grass can be too low in it, to supplement the tree fodder. I'm buying a few bags of cow cubes to help out the newly weaned calves we bought at the moment, but if you look at our overall production system, over 90% of the calories our animals consume in their lifetimes are pasture grasses they consume on our fields, and most of the rest is our own tree fodder.

We're capital-poor and do traditional, low-machinery sidelines like beekeeping and a bit of small-scale vegetable growing. So we're essentially farming with a very low fossil fuel input (we occasionally pay a neighbour with a tractor to do some work for us like putting in wooden posts or burying pipe) and a low footprint, and because of the work we put in, we get more out of this piece of land than what was previously produced. But this requires having people on the land, and what we're doing is actually uneconomical compared to me going out instead to earn a fulltime salary. Because it's still economical for us and we like the lifestyle and the idea of stewarding the land, we do it anyway. The main barrier to having people on the land is the price of land - and then there's the price of agricultural produce, which I think is too low in our system. This is why we're seriously looking at sharefarming with some Tiny House people we could host - it would make the land more productive, without environmental disadvantage. Because I don't have enough hours in the day to do everything and others don't have the money to buy farmland, let alone a house.


When I was in Japan I saw they were feeding the same hay I do, orchard grass from eastern OR or WA. They don't have open plains or the climate to grow quality hay.
And some international trade like that is OK - but not the way it's gone overboard since globalisation. It irks me to see Californian lemons being sold in my local supermarket when the local trees are bursting with lemons. It's unnecessary, and it would be equally ridiculous to buy Australian lemons in a Californian supermarket.


We think we know what is best for our world, then we discover what we thought we knew is wrong. How about the experiments to make mosquitoes sterile? Are mosquitoes any use to our environment? Do we really know?
Mosquitoes help feed the bird populations, for example. Also their role as disease vectors actually helps control population excesses of various animal species, including humans (though we fight it tooth and nail - and see my previous comments, I'd prefer people to use contraception than for people to die from malaria, civil wars etc).


There are lots of things we don't know and ought to be humble enough to admit it. We do have an obligation to make the best decisions we can based on the knowledge we have - and since all of us have impartial knowledge and imperfect logic, we need to allow politics to be messy, for example, without assuming the worse about those who disagree.
I so agree with you on this. Doing the best we can, open respectful dialogue, realising our imperfections and that we need to work together constructively and for the common good, not just the good of a few people with power and money. And here we are, back with the ideas of love and respect and community. Kind of hippie and kind of reminds me of the gospels too! 😜

But some of it seems pretty obvious. When the ground is cracking because water is being pumped out, but your politics and laws allow foreign companies to drill 2000' deep wells to grow crops that could easily be grown elsewhere...it's a problem. Wouldn't like it much better if they were local companies. Water is THE most important resource in the desert. That is why it IS a desert - because everything is driven by the LACK of water. Don't think it matters if one is conservative or liberal. The politicians keep acting like they are obedient house pets of $$$$.
Yep, and they call it the "free market" when they do, even though the "free market" is often anything but - it's often just more freedom for corporations over ordinary citizens - and even when it is an actual free market, doesn't always mean it's a wonderful thing. People need to sit down and think, and talk and work with each other - not let the dollar drive everything.

And it's not always easy being an ethical consumer either, for lack of information with products, or because you're too poor to buy free-range eggs etc (as I was as a university student, and there's so many people on the poverty line - but on the other hand, there's also people not prioritising the money they do have well, e.g. you could afford those free-range eggs if you had a small fuel-efficient car instead of a flashy guzzler - and we need to understand that what we give our money to is what we vote for and actively support with our wallets).


40 years ago, I faulted my 60 year old uncle for being a cynic. Looking back, he strikes me as a sunny optimist! If he could come back to life for a day, I think we could talk and laugh ourselves silly.
Yeah, you know the saying? Young men think old men are fools. Old men know young men are fools! 🙃


I don’t know what good a mosquito is, but I know he is something good. God does in fact have a plan for him. That same thought goes for the hordes of Mormon crickets, and the stupid horn flies that bite me while I milk. I don’t know why, but I know they have a position.

We know vultures have a positive impact on our environment, and yet I watched a Ted talk about how many of them have been killed out. I guess that when they dispose of a body they also dispose of the illnesses that body carried. Without the numbers of some certain vulture an illness was spreading in a country that I can’t remember at all anymore. I did however remember the premise of the talk and how important this bird was that those people considered a pest.
Excellent example. And I'm so glad I'm sharing the planet with you! ❤

❤ to all of you. Thanks for who you all are and what you try to do. 🐙
 

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Yeah, as above. And it's a case of a culture that never used to have much in the way of dairy products in their lives and did perfectly fine without that on their local agricultural produce becoming Westernised and wanting a Western diet and lifestyle, neither of which are actually that great for health and happiness. Recently, @MeditativeRider wrote a post on exactly this kind of problem on my journal - how NZ agriculture is rapidly becoming a dairying monoculture for exporting dairy products to places that never culturally used to have them in the diet, like China - causing social and environmental problems in NZ, and probably animal welfare issues as well (because of increasingly industrialised farming).
I don't know how relevant this is to the current discussion as I did not have time to read it all, but I was just reading this article this morning on a NZ news site, and it has some great images of how the landscape in NZ has changed with intensive agriculture. This is all over a relatively short period of time too. I am only 40, and when I was 8, most of these places were either sheep farms, cattle, or not developed for agriculture at all. I have absolutely no qualms with well-managed agriculture, just the intensive/industrial scale stuff that is done for huge profits for a few multinational companies.

In this case, the article has photographs of an area in NZ that has been heavily converted (mostly to dairy) around braided rivers. Not sure if you all are familiar with braided rivers as I know there are not many in the world, but they have multiple paths rather than just one river bed and change all the time. Many areas in NZ have converted land that is in the plains of these braided rivers to agriculture. And the error of this was all laid apparent in recent floods.

Even if you do not read the words in the article, the images are really telling.


And on the trying to sell dairy to non-dairy eating cultures, Fonterra in NZ once developed a chocolate cheese for the Chinese market to try get them into dairy.

 

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But I think we need to seriously restrict the TYPES of agriculture allowed in Arizona to those that don't use insane amounts of water. This would require action by the state government and they do NOT want to touch that political hot potato! Odd as it sounds, many of the big users are also owned by very large corporations based out of state and (often) outside the USA. China and Saudi Arabia own places sucking up water to produce crops that are not sustainable in the long haul. I have NO IDEA why we allow that apart from $$$$$$ going to politicians!
We have the same here in NZ. Lots of conversion to intensive dairy in places that are dry and have to be highly irrigated to achieve it. Lots of it for dairy products to be shipped overseas to markets that did not traditionally eat dairy products.

We also have foreign water bottling companies buying up ground water extraction rights to bottle water and ship it overseas. Crazy. Fresh, drinkable water is so important and only going to become more important in the future.
 

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We've had several days of light but consistent rain here...maybe 0.1-0.2" a day for several days. Yesterday we got at least an inch of rain over several hours. Hoping and praying this is the start of a good monsoon season. The corral looks like this:

I need to raise up the side with the mud. That is where the water and dirt flow down to and if I gradually raise it I should be able to level the corral. Another project we started on a few days ago is clearing out the Yucca plants:

My reciprocal saw (battery powered) cuts yucca well. It is very hard to DIG them up. The roots are extensive and pack rats make nests in the roots. Digging them up puts bacteria and rat feces and nasty stuff into the air and makes me sicker than sick. So my new plan - cut them off at ground level. Then keep cutting several times a year until the roots run out of energy for regrowth and die. The plants suck up a lot of water and I think the mesquite trees will flourish once the yucca is...not gone, but unable to grow. When things dry out a bit, I'll load them onto our utility trailer and haul them to the landfill.

We also have some 10' tall stands of prickly pear that are beat down and diseased. The saw cuts thru them well too. BTW - I have 5 batteries for the saw so the limit on cutting is when I start getting blisters on my hand. Need to wear gloves. Because of the spines of both plants, it involves holding the saw out in one hand and cutting until I can get to the main part of the support. Reciprocal saws vibrate and aren't really meant to be use with one hand. Not unless the user is a lot bigger than me!

We plan to clear out some of the creosote brush as well and expand the riding area for the arena with some VERY short "trails" (100' tops) between the remaining mesquite. Just to add variety. Even with 2 acres, there is plenty to do outside. And inside. My back is FINALLY healed from its twist a month ago and now I need to finish working on the inside of the pantry too. I have almost no experience working drywall so my BIL came over and gave me a 4 hour lesson. Now I can practice on the inside of the pantry where any bad work will be hidden behind canned goods. There are some things a person can only learn by doing. And making mistakes. A bit like riding and training horses.

When the mud dries, I'll start riding again. But I won't mind in the least if we keep getting rain for a while longer!

From Tucson's channel 9 news:
 

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My youngest daughter is home on leave. She's celebrating the 4th of July as she traditionally does. She has self-imposed a ban on drinking tea for 24 hours, viewing it as lacking patriotic fervor during the 24 hours of the 4th. She is also watching, as she does annually, the musical 1776. It is easy to forget that while we know the outcome, the men involved had no idea if their actions would result in their being hung - and yes, it was a mixture of good and evil, as most things done by humans are:



The TV series John Adams was also good:
And tomorrow, she'll be able to switch back from coffee to her beloved teas.
 

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Came across this picture and liked it. A young Ronald Reagan riding before WW2:
One can like or dislike his politics. Won't go there. But he strikes me as a horseman, not just a rider. There is a book ("Riding with Reagan") written by a Secret Service agent who rode with him. Said the stallion he owned while President was a real hand full. Since RR was President, this guy's job was to ride the stallion the day prior to "get some of the fresh" off him - by the SS's direction, not RR's! He said the horse could gallop for hours.

Another picture of him:
 

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I like Reagan's riding, but he learned in the Cavalry using the same basic approach Littauer taught - what used to be called the American Military seat. You can see his body is balanced over the stirrups. No crawling up on the neck or strong gripping with the knees. Gen Patton using the same style:
On the 4th, I took a nap in the evening. I had a done a good run that day but was tired. I woke to the fireworks going off near us. Started looking around and my wife, visiting youngest daughter and two dogs were with the horses out at the corral. I joined them. Jack, our Border Collie, has a particularly strong hatred/fear of fireworks. When I joined them, my wife told me that at one point, Bandit stuck his nose between the railings and "groomed" Jack, who was huddled in fear. That sounded like an utterly Bandit sort of thing to do. He doesn't actually LIKE dogs, but the two dogs have been there all his life here and he accepts them.

And Bandit views himself as The Great Protector. He did it again not long after I joined them, although he mostly moved around to keep himself between the two other horses and the nearest fireworks. But I liked it. Not sure if Jack understood, but maybe he did. Much more surprising was when Cowboy did it! Cowboy dislikes dogs, but Jack is a mellow Border Collie who is content to watch the horses from the nearest shade.

So we all hung out together until the fireworks stopped. Three species, but we all understood each other enough to take some comfort in being together in the darkness. For his part, Jack seemed slightly reassured having three very large friends there watching out for him!

A picture from the sunset on the 4th, a few hours before the gathering at the corral:
 

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RR's toe doesn't bother me. Lots of jumpers have their heels come up at the apex of a jump. Pictures of show jumpers reveal a LOT of high level jumpers do worse:
That photo comes from an article with the title "Britain and Ireland miss out on Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification in WEG jumping" - and maybe that position says WHY they will miss out. Or maybe that show jumping, as Littauer wrote in the 1970s, had become as disconnected from good riding as dressage had become. Not sure who this is...seems to be from a World Cup event in 2011:
Maybe that is what is needed to be competitive in the world of jumping, but if it is, then is competitive jumping a source of bad riding? Have the jumps reached the point that hanging on as the horse hurdles himself across is what it takes? Because to my eye, RR looked much more fluid and in balance with his horse - more part of the team doing the jump as one instead of a tick trying to hang on. OTOH, Beezie Madden still seems to look like "one" with her horse...and it would be hard to find a photo of her anywhere that doesn't look like fluid balance at perfection:
Perhaps more important from my perspective is that I no longer view "heels down" as a particularly useful part of riding. It is an area where I've parted company with Littauer and the US Cavalry. I focus more now on feeling a part of my horse and trying to feel relaxed - even when working hard - and that relaxed feeling, even on level ground, doesn't seem to correlate with a specific heel position.

I think there is a difference between how average riders ought to ride (and ride well) and how competitive riders ride to win. Horse sports, pretty much all of them, emphasize the extremes and this 63 year old guy just isn't "extreme" - and I certainly don't do much jumping, if any. For me, it has become about feeling at one with my horse, like we're both working on the same thing together. And I find "position" can be the enemy of "feel".
That comes from a video years ago of a violent spook. When you get busy like that, your body takes over and you are totally focused on balance - and staying on without throwing the horse off balance. I think those are good things to work on all the time. I get the feeling instructors focus on position because it is something they can see, while good riding is more about feel. And it is hard to "see" feel. I'd argue both Beezie Madden and Ronald Reagan have/had great "feel" while Beezie always has great position as well! But I'd be thrilled to ride like RR. But..... I've as much chance of riding Bandit on Mars as I do of riding like Beezie Madden!
 

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Went for a hike with my youngest a few days ago. We parked on the east side of the Santa Ritas and started following a dirt road. The dirt road soon petered out and since we didn't have maps we decided to just go on cross country. Easier to do when the country is very open! Later on, we looked at a map online and think we went roughly like this:
Looking back, we had parked at the arrow. The distant ridgeline is from the Whetstone Mountains:
This was looking toward the Rincon Mountains that are east of Tucson. My house is somewhere halfway between:
A barbed wire fence channeled us along a ridgeline when we came to this gate:
VERY elaborate for the back country. No idea where that trail starts. Given the expense of the gate, we wondered if it wasn't a section of the Arizona Trail. I've never seen a gate like that in the back country unless it involved tourists, but we had the entire countryside to ourselves. I confess to being tired by the time we got back to the car. Straight line on a map it doesn't look like much, but you don't go cross country in a straight line and the only time we took two level steps in a row was crossing a cattle guard. This was as high as we got:
She celebrated the turn around point with a real sugar Dr. Pepper. I had a Diet Coke...my battle with the bulge will go on until I die.

We're getting a good monsoon finally. I'd guess (based on straight sided water buckets) that we've had 3 inches in the last 2 weeks, although I think our house has been above average. Would love for it to keep up for another couple of months!

"And it's also important to understand just how bad last year's monsoon was. "I remember being really grumpy about 2019 and I had no idea it could get worse or would get worse than that," Crimmins said of 2019's 5.1 inches of monsoon rain. Tucson received 1.62 inches of rain during 2020's monsoon, according to Michael. The only time a monsoon has brought less rain than that was in 1924 with 1.59 inches....

An average monsoon brings about 6 inches of rain to Tucson, Crimmins says, with August generally being the wettest month. "To be honest, even if we have a near-normal monsoon, it’s going to seem impressive because we’ve had a down monsoon for the past two years," Michael says. "So if we get something close to normal, it’s going to feel very active." The last above-average monsoon in Tucson was in 2017, which recorded 8.6 inches of rain
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During the storm last evening. I'd guess the wind gusts were 50+ mph. Caught the edge of the shelter roofing and some screws were pulled out, happily BEFORE the rain hit. The roof started flapping so I went out with some screws and my drill and put a few deck screws in fast. Not long after, the rain hit. They aren't in the shelter because the wind was blowing the rain sideways and this resulted in the driest they could find:
They really don't seem to mind a warm rain, which this was. No food that night because the rain and lightning kept up for hours. I fed them this morning and they were surprisingly polite, waiting at their buckets (each one picked the one they wanted to eat at) while I carried flakes to them. Trooper was - well, we don't like each other, really - so he looked up. Cowboy ignored me taking the picture:
Bandit? He didn't give a rat's rear end if I wanted to take a picture. It was CHOW TIME!
They'll clean up the hay they have spilled. "Tossed", more accurately. It seems to taste better off the ground.
 

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We're having a good monsoon so far:
Notice how green the ocotillo is. A month ago, it was just sticks. The young saguaro in the middle was looking dry. Now it is near bursting. The grass in the arena was put to good use today. I rode Bandit but let him eat a lot. Brought Trooper over later and let him eat and even got him, with much prancing, covered in fly spray! And here is Cowboy's turn:
Looks pathetic by Vermont standards, but this is living high on the hog for southern Arizona!

Recent yard work has included using a wheel barrow to move dirt and rock to build a barrier near the corral. For years, water from our house roof and backyard has flowed out of the gate and cut across where the horse shelters are. In addition, water from the road, our driveway and the SE corner of the property has flowed the same way. I built this to force the flow to the south side of the corral to reduce erosion where the horses spend most of their time. It wasn't finished when I took this picture (and still needs more work) but it is already effective:
I also used some retaining wall bricks (50 lbs each) to try to reduce the erosion heading to the arena:
Unfortunately, I only got 30 minutes of riding in on Bandit today. I ran a total of 8 miles in the last 2 days, plus working with Mr Wheel Barrow and Mr Pick. Near the end of the ride - well, CAUSING the end of the ride - we did a couple of tight turns at a canter and I could feel the asymmetrical forces starting to stab my back. Cantering in straight lines is fine, but the arena is very small and at best 70 feet wide. We don't stay on the extreme sides so Bandit's turns are more like 40' diameter across. I'm realizing I may be too old to do that without issues! My wife came out and took some pictures during the last 2 minutes of riding. Unhappily, by that time my back was tightening up. I was hoping to get some pictures but I realized I needed to dismount before I spend the next 30 days in pain again.

Getting old sucks, although I guess it beats the alternative to getting old....:cautious:
 

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Bandit trotting today:
At a canter:
Trying to steer him closer to my wife at a canter. My inside leg has to curl back and around him to hang on in the turns, which makes me asymmetrical:
First time in a while using a curb bit. Seems I can't figure out what to do with my free hand. Oh well. This one is odd. It is a screenshot as he is transitioning from a trot to canter. Looks to me like he has started to accelerate with a push off from his hind end - hence the mane flapping back - but hasn't started to lift with his front end...so he is still kind of at a trot in the front with the hind starting to canter. By the next stride he was fully into a canter. Played at normal speed I didn't see this. Or maybe he's accelerating in order to transition?
 

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Looks pathetic by Vermont standards, but this is living high on the hog for southern Arizona!
Haha, that made me laugh. What’s incredible is how quickly your landscape is programmed to adjust to and take advantage of a sudden influx of water. That grass seems like it came out of nowhere!

I hate to say it, but we’re borderline too wet right now. First cut of hay is now 2-3 weeks late because we haven’t had three consecutive sunny days in weeks. Starting to get worried.

I volunteered at an endurance ride today and this is the “lawn” at the farm that hosted the first hold. The horses had gone about 21 miles when they arrived here and most didn’t want to leave the grass when their 50 minute break was up!
1115693
 

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@egrogan, you live in a stunningly beautiful place! I love the desert but ONCE in a while I'd love to try....some GREEN! My wife and I are discussing trying to get away next summer for a few weeks to return to England and spend some time walking in the Yorkshire dales. We spent 3.5 years just north of Oxford. The Cotswolds are nice but Yorkshire would be more to our tastes.


PS: Something the video shows that the pictures really don't is how stiff I was holding my back. A fluid, swinging back isn't just good for horses. It is pretty important for good riding too - and mine was braced like an I-beam when my wife was taking pictures. I originally hurt my back in Jan 2009, shortly after I started riding. I'm beginning to understand how much my physical limitations - years of back pain while riding - shaped how I ride. It was and sometimes is an adaptation minimizing pain.

I'm popping Motrin right now but should be up to speed in a day or two. I think I'll limit my cantering on Bandit in the arena to maybe once or twice at the most. It is good practice for being on an excited horse and good for my confidence, but it has too much risk of reinjuring my lower back. Running 4 miles puts a symmetrical load on my back and I'm okay. Turns at a canter? Not so good.
 
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